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Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness
Communication and working relationships in sport and fitness

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3 Developing an effective message

Effective messages are often characterised by being concise, with points made in a well-organised sequence – this clarifies their meaning. Workplace communication can use a range of media, such as telephone, Skype, WhatsApp and email. The next activity uses the example of email because it is a widely used form of business communication. However, the main focus here is on message structure rather than the media used.

A photograph of a person’s hands typing on a laptop.
Figure 2 Effective messages have similar characteristics whatever the channel used.

Activity 2 How would you improve this message?

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Read the following example of an email message from Mary, a strength and conditioning coach. She is writing about Jessica, a talented athlete working in an apprenticeship role in an organisation. The purpose of Mary’s message is to alert the apprenticeship coordinator, Shamela, to the athlete needing some space in her timetable.

Mary’s email

Hi Shamela

I’ve been working with Jessica on her free weight lifts and the problem is that she has poor range of movement, so she is not very good at getting into the catch position. She wants to do it properly, but she’s not going to make progress until she can sort out her flexibility. I don’t want to push her too hard until she has this. I’ve spoken to the physio last Monday and he has spoken to Jessica. The physio says that they can help Jessica, but Jessica hasn’t been available to put in the extra time for the sessions with her since her current work schedule does not allow this. As we’ve talked about before, Jessica getting this technique correct is important to her so she can lift enough weight to have an impact on her power when running, without increasing the risk of injury. She can do the other gym work well. So could you free up some of Jessica’s time so that she can put the effort in?



(adapted from Kyndt and Rowell, 2012)
  1. Overall, how do you think the message could be improved in terms of organisation, conciseness and/or clarity?
  2. Note down the words that express matters negatively or positively – does the message convey an optimistic, constructive approach?


  1. Overall, the message is poor. It is not that clear because it meanders around following Mary’s thoughts – it is disorganised and does not follow a logical, concise sequence. It comes across as passing on a problem that Shamela has to address.
  2. There is a dominance of phrases such as ‘the problem’, ‘not very good’ and ‘not going to make progress,’ which give a downbeat impression and are not concise. Positive and constructive language is more likely to help build a stronger working relationship with the people reading a message.

This activity raises the question: how do we organise messages to be clear?